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n-yarcouncil Yarmouth tax rate could rise almost 6 percent

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n-yarcouncil Yarmouth tax rate could rise almost 6 percent

YARMOUTH — Town Manager Nat Tupper presented a preliminary fiscal 2010 budget to the Town Council last week that increases municipal spending by about 1 percent while maintaining the capital improvement plan and employee contracts.
Tupper said the 1.13 percent increase would offset revenue losses caused by the economy and loss of revenue from the state. Due to the economy, he said fee revenue has declined, an excise tax reduction could mean a loss of $600,000 to the town, and there has been a significant increase in insurance costs and worker's compensation.
"We have to cut something," he said. "Either road funds or raise taxes to make up for it."
He said he assumed the school budget, which makes up about two-thirds of the total budget, would increase by 3.2 percent for fiscal 2010 based on curtailment of state aid and reduced revenue. 
The preliminary budget shows the tax rate would increase $1.12, or 5.85 percent, to $20.29 per $1,000 of assessed value.
In order to avoid the proposed tax increase, Tupper offered councilors a list of ways to generate $1.45 million by increasing fees, reducing hours and services, eliminating programs, delaying or reducing capital programs and sharing services.
If the suggestions are adopted, the tax requirement would remain unchanged at $19.17 per $1,000 of assessed value.
They include a $160,000 savings realized by consolidating dispatch services with the Cumberland County Regional Communications Center in Windham; reductions in library hours, streetlights, landfill and transfer station hours that would save $42,000; a savings of $275,000 from eliminating the employee appreciation dinner, hazardous waste day, night games on the turf field, and the sale of assets; and $475,000 by charging a sewer and trash disposal fee.
Tupper also devised a contingency strategy by taking $300,000 from road paving funds and moving it into the
operating budget. The funds would be available if a statewide excise tax referendum passes and the town loses $600,000 in revenue.
Tupper said he was pleased to present a budget with an increase of 1percent without making significant changes.
"The municipal strategies are geared to keep the tax rate as low as possible," he said. "Given our revenue shortfall, even with a 1percent increase, there is an anticipated 6 percent increase in the tax rate."
In other business, councilors said they expect to take action on a Bridge Street rezoning proposal at their next meeting. They are also expected to send an Even Keel Road conditional rezoning proposal to the Planning Board for a Feb. 11 workshop. They will hear the board's recommendation at their next meeting on Thursday, Feb. 19, at 7 p.m. in the Log Cabin on Main Street.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 110, or aanderson@theforecaster.net.